London, March 20, 2008 – Alibaba.com, the world's leading business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce company dedicated to small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), today held its first Open Sesame member event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Canary Wharf, London. Attended by over 200 UK members, Alibaba.com's Open Sesame event was organized in association with the China-Britain Business Council and included speeches by Alibaba.com Chairman, Jack Ma, and Alibaba.com CEO, David Wei.
"China's booming domestic market is driving demand for imported international goods," said Sir David Brewer CMG, Chairman of China-Britain Business Council. "Alibaba.com's online marketplace is becoming an increasingly effective tool for UK businesses to source components, identify trading partners and find new customers, as part of the necessary process of building business relationships."
With more than 260,000 members, the UK is Alibaba.com's largest and most important European market. David Wei, Alibaba.com CEO explained, "We want to become the number one online marketplace for international trade to and from the UK. We plan to significantly increase our UK membership base in 2008 and are actively looking for local partners to help us reach more UK-based SMEs."
Alibaba.com UK: A strategic growth market
With 2,000 UK companies signing up each week, Alibaba.com intends to expand its local footprint and introduce new services tailored to the needs of its growing number of members. For example, Alibaba.com will enable UK SMEs to further capitalize on export market opportunities via a new service entitled 'Export to China.' The service, to be launched in the second half of 2008, will offer SMEs an easy to use, local language storefront on Alibaba.com's Chinese marketplace, which is the dominant B2B website in China with more than 23 million members.
Mission: To make it easy to do business anywhere
The ability to reach out across the globe via the Internet has been an exciting development for small UK businesses, which account for 10.55 million UK jobs and 37.2% of the country's turnover (£967.2 billion). Thanks to Alibaba.com, UK businesses are going global and buyers and sellers of everything, from microwave ovens to baseball caps are finding their perfect trading partners faster and easier than ever before. In just over eight years, Alibaba.com has built a global community of more than 27 million members from over 200 countries and regions, covering some 40 industries and more than 5,000 product categories.
SMEs adopting a new model for global sourcing
While traditional sourcing channels including trade shows, catalogues and trade associations remain prominent in today's business environment, online marketplaces like Alibaba.com are gradually stealing the limelight with their comparative advantages – efficiency and effectiveness, strong B2B focus, large database of suppliers, real time operation, and capability to bridge geographies and time zones. Studies show that Alibaba.com effectively enables its members to reduce their supply cycles by up to 75 percent.
What's more, compared to other B2B websites, Alibaba.com is neutral, being equally focused on buyers and sellers. Buyers use the site for free and have access to an active global supplier community and easy to use sourcing and communication tools. Sellers can also use the site for free, posting products to sell and searching for buyers. Premium fee-based packages are available for sellers who want to increase their exposure to potential buyers. Buyers and sellers meet and communicate online at Alibaba.com but transactions are completed offline.